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Members in the News Written by:
Beverly Hoeftman
ABI Membership Specialist

Web posted and Copyright © December 1, 2003, American Bankruptcy Institute.

This month's staff profile features members from the Membership and Marketing Departments.

hen Chris Thackston joined the ABI staff as Membership Coordinator in December 1996 from the American Trucking Association, ABI had about 5,300 members. We now have nearly 9,700 members and counting. Chris was promoted to Membership Director in 2000, and now supervises a full-time staff of three who work on both new member recruitment and retention. He's responsible for maintenance of the membership database and supporting systems, the production of marketing materials and the annual membership directory. Last year, he helped conceptualize and create the Career Center on the web site, among other tasks. A graduate of Old Dominion University, Chris lives in Alexandria with his wife Trish and their two children, Connor and Mia.

Our annual membership goals are to grow by at least 10 percent and to achieve a 90 percent retention rate. Helping us reach these ambitious goals is the task of the membership staff of Kimberly Hay and Beverly Hoeftman. Kimberly is our Retention Manager, who directs the monthly renewal process, including data entry and member communications during each month of the annual process. She joined the staff in 2002 after more than 10 years of nonprofit membership association work. Kimberly is a Certified Customer Service Professional. A native of Baltimore, she graduated from Towson University and lives in Maryland. Beverly joined the ABI staff in 2001 after seven years in membership with American Youth Hostels. Beverly handles the initial communication with new members and member communications, including management of the committee listserves. She also writes the monthly Journal column of "Members in the News." She, too, is a Towson University graduate. Beverly, Kimberly and Chris all share responsibility for exhibiting with the ABI booth at conferences. The newest member of the membership team is Katherine Duke (see nearby profile).

Caroline Milani returned to the ABI staff as Director of Special Projects last fall after pursuing job opportunities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Pittsburgh. She was ABI's Administrator from 1989-94, where she handled event planning and a variety of other responsibilities during ABI's early years. She also served as the first administrator for the American College of Bankruptcy over that time. During the past year, Caroline has produced ABI's media programs for the Sky Radio network, organized the "Nuts & Bolts" programs for young professionals and coordinated committee electronic newsletters, among other special projects. She is now involved in the creation of a new national sponsorship program in support of ABI programs. Caroline is a graduate of Allegheny College and lives in northern Virginia with her daughter, Samantha.

Sharisa Sloan joined our staff in 1999 after working in marketing for the Water Environment Research Foundation, also located in Alexandria. She is primarily responsible for ABI Journal advertising, marketing the Endowment Fund, and managing the sponsor and exhibitor programs at ABI's major conferences. Advertising revenue in the Journal has doubled during Sharisa's tenure, as has the number of sponsors and exhibitors. Sharisa is also involved in both membership marketing with the exhibit booth and in the creation and implementation of the new partnership sponsor initiative. She also lives in northern Virginia with her son, Alex.

Other Members in the News

The Los Angeles bankruptcy and restructuring law firm SulmeyerKupetz, formerly known as Sulmeyer, Kupetz, Baumann & Rothman, has announced the opening of a new office in Northern California. The new location in Redwood Shores will handle business throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and beyond. Backed by the resources of the Los Angeles headquarters, the Silicon Valley office will work closely with senior partner David Kupetz, who will be actively involved in growing the newly established outpost.

Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP partner Reginald "Reggie" W. Jackson has been named one of "America's Top Lawyers" by Black Enterprise magazine. One of three attorneys selected from Ohio, Mr. Jackson was chosen for his achievements in the area of bankruptcy law. Highlighted is his recent role as lead creditors' committee counsel in the Primary Health Systems Inc. chapter 11 case, which involved a multi-hospital reorganization. Mr. Jackson focuses his practice on representing secured creditors, creditors' committees, vendors, suppliers, and debtors in chapter 11 reorganization proceedings and workouts. An ABI Executive Committee member, he is executive editor of the ABI Journal and has been an ABImember since 1992.

The November issue of Texas Monthly "Texas Super Lawyers" has named Deborah Williamson, a shareholder and head of the Bankruptcy Department at Cox & Smith Incorporated in San Antonio, as one of the "Top 50 Lawyers in Central Texas" as well as one of the "Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas." She is one of two lawyers in San Antonio to be recognized in both of these categories. Ms. Williamson is a past president of ABI and is a contributing editor to the ABI Journal's "Benchnotes" column. She currently serves as the vice president of the Business Law Committee for the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Texas.

Clear Thinking Group Inc., a retail/ consumer-products manufacturing consultancy based in Hillsborough, N.J., and its Principal and Managing Director Joseph E. Myers CCE, have been named plan administrator in a reorganization plan and disclosure statement filed by T.A.C. Group, d/b/a Frugal Fannie's Fashion Warehouse, and its unsecured creditors' committee. The Westwood, Mass.-based retailer operated nine off-price women's apparel and accessories stores and generated sales of $85 million. The company shuttered its four remaining stores in the spring and filed for chapter 11 protection.

Brown, Gibbons, Lang & Co. recently announced the promotion of Nir Gabriely to director. Prior to joining the independent investment banking firm in 1998, Mr. Gabriely served as a financial analyst at Lanoptics Ltd., a data-communications developer. He prepared the financial statements, reported to various funds, developed the corporate budget plan and analyzed the financial performance of the company and its subsidiaries. Born in Israel, he served as a reserve officer in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Dreier LLP has announced that Shari Siegel has joined the firm as a partner in its bankruptcy department in New York. Previously Of Counsel at Latham & Watkins LLP, Ms. Siegel has practiced extensively in the field of insolvency for 14 years and has represented numerous troubled companies, chapter 11 debtors, acquirers of distressed companies, secured lenders, unsecured creditors, indenture trustees and committees in all phases of chapter 11 cases, in addition to general bankruptcy litigation. At Dreier, she will particularly focus on representing parties, including debtors, acquirors and unsecured creditors, who present significant conflicts for law firms that have ties to underwriters and institutional secured lenders. Along with Norman N. Kinel, Dreier LLP's Bankruptcy Department chair, she is also currently representing the unsecured creditors committee of 360networks. She joined ABI in 1998 and is also a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, where she sits on its Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization Committee.

GE Business Credit, a unit of GE Corporate Financial Services, announced it has named Kathleen Lepak as senior vice president and regional sales manager for its Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. With 23 years of corporate management experience, she will manage new business development initiatives for all asset-based lending transactions of between $5 million and $30 million.


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